Lea Ann Lowery to Serve as SHP’s First Faculty Fellow for Interprofessional Education

In 2016 the Interprofessional Education Collaborative noted that interprofessional education (IPE) has been recognized as essential to “help prepare future health professionals for enhanced team-based care of patients and improved population health outcomes.” Reflecting SHP’s vision of the importance of IPE, the school is investing in strategies to grow opportunities for IPE within education programs in our school and across MU Health. The first such investment established the role of SHP Faculty Fellow for Interprofessional Education to formalize SHP’s vision and approach to IPE. Lea Ann Lowery, Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy, will serve as SHP’s first Faculty Fellow for IPE. Dr. Kristofer Hagglund, Dean of the School of Health Professions, said “High quality patient care increasingly requires teamwork among health care providers. As technology and care delivery protocols become more sophisticated, health care professionals are being called upon to integrate services, communicate effectively, collaborate in planning, and understand each other’s work. Dr. Lowery will help us establish best practices for the teaching and learning of this kind of Interprofessional teamwork.”

Dr. Stephanie Reid-Arndt, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, will oversee the fellowship, which is intended as a multi-year initiative, with Dr. Lowery serving for a minimum of one year. Dr. Lowery will be responsible for examining current IPE initiatives in the school, fostering and maintaining collaborations within and outside SHP to establish and promote IPE activities, and coordinating the strategic planning of IPE activities with faculty, staff and administrators. “There is such enthusiasm among SHP faculty for working toward models of interdisciplinary care and interprofessional education,” Reid-Arndt said. “It’s going to take the ideas and commitment of many people to make this happen, and we’re confident Dr. Lowery can energize and organize our faculty and administration to make significant progress in the first year.”

Dr. Lowery has been engaged in interdisciplinary education for several years, both in her role at SHP and with the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Her work with the TIPS 4 KIDS program and other activities have provided the foundation for her work in IPE. She has been a long-time advocate of interdisciplinary care in our student clinics. She believes that better interdisciplinary collaboration is one of the most important things SHP programs can teach students. “Students, even at the early undergraduate level, need to learn to see their discipline as a part of the bigger picture,” Lowery said. “Patient outcomes, health care costs, and quality of care all improve when all the care providers and team members understand the others’ roles and work together.”

In the first year of the project, Dr. Lowery intends to get input from departments and programs about what IPE initiatives are underway already, and what ideas they have for building a more comprehensive IPE program. She also wants to start introducing the concept of IPE to students in early courses and FIGs to help create the expectation for IPE coursework in professional programs. “I’m excited to get interested faculty, staff and students involved,” Lowery said. “A program like this has to include people from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds, and I hope to get a task force together soon that will help set the direction for the coming years.”